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How (Not) To Stop a Bully

Emily Bazelon’s new book argues that bullying comes in different forms and so should its antidotes

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(Illustration Tablet Magazine; original images Shutterstock)
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Born To Bully

Instead of preaching kindness, we should realize, as the Bible did long ago, that we’re all bullies—and that the best advice is to give in to that reality

When a bullying incident makes the news, a flurry of collective hand-wringing generally follows. We call for schools to be stricter, punishment to be harsher, kids to be kinder. But what have we actually learned about the dynamic of bullying and, more important, the most effective ways to prevent it? Slate writer and editor Emily Bazelon tackles these questions in a new book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. Bazelon has reported on bullying since 2009. In the book, she profiles three teens—two victims of bullying, and one who was accused of bullying—and then goes beyond to define what bullying is, and is not; what works, and what doesn’t, to interrupt a cycle of bullying; and what needs to be done to prevent a culture of bullying from taking hold in schools and online.

Bazelon speaks with Tablet Magazine’s Liel Leibovitz about bullying and the role schools, parents, Jewish values, and Mark Zuckerberg could play in stopping it. [Running time: 24:23] 

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I regret that this issue was not out in the open years ago. We moved from a predominantly non-Jewish area to a predominantly Jewish one, in the hopes that our children would have more Jewish friends and feel accepted, not that they weren’t in the old neighborhood. I was horrified when our two older children, ages nine and seven and a half were relentlessly teased and bullied. Meeting with the parents did little to mitigate the situation and, in fact, made it worse for our son. We had lived in a largely blue collar neighborhood and moved to an upper-middle class one comprised largely of professionals, many of them psychologists, teachers, physicians. It was a very distressing time for all of us.

Gloria Rinderman says:

It is good to teach young children kindness and tolerance.”Be A Buddy, Not A Bully”-a popular CD of upbeat songs has been reviewed by the
School Library Journal for grades K-4 to try to help combat bullying.

“A very educational & positive children’s music album that reinforces hospitality,
acceptance, & togetherness.”

The song “Be a Buddy, not a Bully” can be heard on utube:


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How (Not) To Stop a Bully

Emily Bazelon’s new book argues that bullying comes in different forms and so should its antidotes

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